Posts Tagged ‘goal setting’

Breaking Bad Habits Now

April 4, 2017

Habits form when we repeat an action and often they are very helpful to us. We form bad habits because they have short-term benefits, and we ignore the long-term consequences for this momentary payoff. The more enjoyable the instant gratification, the harder the bad habit is to break.

When behaviors are enjoyable, even if they’re unhealthy, they can release a chemical in the brain called dopamine. The habit becomes even stronger, and we continue doing it regardless of how we feel afterward (i.e. overeating, obsessively checking social media, etc.).

STRATEGIES TO BREAK BAD HABITS

Along the path to better habits, we must start by making a choice. Here are several strategies to break bad habits:

GETTING STARTED

  • Identify purpose – Perhaps the most helpful strategy is to understand what purpose the bad habit serves. If you weren’t getting something from it, you wouldn’t keep doing it.
  • Identify progression – What actions typically lead up to your habit? Disrupting the progression of events that trigger your bad habit sets you up for greater success.
  • Identify motivation – How would you assess your commitment to change? Feeling a deep connection to your “why” helps make difficult choices worth it.
  • Identify influence – Try to avoid individuals who are linked to dangerous habits like excessive drinking or drug use.

MOVING TOWARD GOOD HABITS

  • Plan ahead – Don’t trust your strength in the moment. Making a plan ahead of time for dealing with temptation prepares your mind to resist the urge.
  • Change environments – Be mindful of situations and temptations where it might be easy to continue in your behavior. This will help to eliminate the potential for a slip-up.
  • Practice mindfulness – Pay attention to your mind and body. Be mindful of the emotions you’re experiencing and what’s going on in your body.
  • Replace with good – Trade out your bad habits for good ones. For example, swap out the time you once spent overeating and use it to exercise.

POSSIBLE SETBACKS ALONG THE WAY

  • Not alone – You don’t have to do this alone. Find someone wanting to quit one of his or her bad habits and team up.
  • Forgive – If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up. Change takes time. Some days you might take a step back before you keep moving forward. Forgive yourself and keep trying.
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Stress Stoppers: Stress Stretch

February 14, 2017

When you are under stress, tension accumulates in your neck and jaw. Take a minute to gently and slowly move your head from front to back, side to side, and in a full circle. For your jaw, stretch your mouth open, and slowly move your lower jaw from side to side and front to back. (NOTE: If you notice any pain or if you have had any injuries to your back, neck or jaw, check with your doctor first.)

Set a Goal (and Achieve It!)

Unrealistic goals that never seem to be reached add to your stress level. Try setting one goal for yourself this week. Pick one small goal and write it down. Can you count it or check it off a list? Is it realistic? If not, make it smaller. Decide how to reward yourself when you reach your goal. Set a specific, realistic date to finish or achieve your goal.

Comedy Break: Laugh at Stress

Set aside some time for laughter, your body’s natural stress release mechanism. Rent your favorite comedy video. Tape a TV show that you know makes you laugh and keep it on hand for stress emergencies. Go to the library and borrow a book by an author who can make you laugh. Read the daily comics in the newspaper. Or, phone the funniest person you know!

Walking Breaks

Walk away from stress. Instead of sitting down for another cup of stress-inducing caffeine on your coffee break, lunch hour or when you’re at home … try going for a stress-relieving and energizing walk. If you don’t like walking by yourself, try forming a walking club with two or three of your friends or coworkers.

Reducing Stress By Getting Organized

September 30, 2016

Be honest. How many times do you search for your car keys? Lose a store coupon or misplace that one paper? If you’re known to call your workspace “organized chaos,” you’re not alone. And since we’re being real, let’s just tackle the car, house, and garage too.

Organization is key to accomplishing our goals. Minimizing clutter and waste allows us to succeed at what matters most. While organizational skills are necessary, everyone is slightly unique with what system works best. You don’t need a complicated, color-coded system for life if something else works better for you. Identify your best organizational strategy by addressing the following areas.

Waste Removal – Keep track of your activities for one week. What activities tend to waste your time? How can you minimize or eliminate these from your schedule?

Long-term Goals – Have a clear vision and goal for the long-term. Does the way you spend your time reflect this goal? What are daily and weekly tasks to help you reach the long-term goal?

Optimal time – Identify the time of day you are most productive. Are you a morning or night person? As much as possible, use your optimal time to maximize your efforts.

Tips to Stay Organized

Plan for the day – You can avoid morning confusion by planning for your day the evening before. Consider laying out your clothes, packing your lunch, or gathering needed files and books.

Weekly checkup – Have a weekly cleanup where you discard, file, or recycle papers and other materials. This will keep your area less cluttered, and you won’t lose valuable time searching for misplaced items.

Stick to one – We tend to praise multitasking in our culture, but this can actually prevent you from being organized. Focusing on one task at a time is best and produces a better result.

Regardless if your organization skills are an inherent strength or a learned behavior, their benefits help you maintain order, peace, and a less-stressed lifestyle. As an added bonus, you might know where your car keys are. Happy organizing!

Escaping Financial Stress

August 12, 2016

We know our minds and bodies are connected, but did you realize they’re also linked to our bank accounts? Financial stress can have a large impact on your physical health, thoughts, and relationships.

The largest obstacle between financial wisdom and lowering our stress is our attitude. In our quest to make the right decision, we can become scared about the wrong one. Sometimes we assume if we try to make wise financial choices we’ll just end up failing. However, it would be better to take the risk, and even possibly fail, than to never make a move.

Tips to Alleviate Financial Stress

The pinch on our bank accounts and the ever-changing market isn’t something to take lightly. The following tips may help ease the financial stress and strain on your wallet.

Adjust your perspective – Often times, when we have failed in the past, success seems farther out of reach than it actually is. Perceptions can easily be flawed. Our attitudes about what we have control over and what we don’t control can impact our level of success.

Stick to your budget – Knowing how to track your money is critical. Establishing a clear budget shows you exactly how much inflow and outflow you have. If you’re unsure how to make a budget, there are online tools and mobile apps available to teach you.

Identify unhealthy emotions – If you’ve made a poor financial choice this doesn’t mean you’re destined for failure. Guilt is rarely a helpful emotion. Instead, focus on what you can change  rather than beating yourself up for your prior financial mistakes.

Know your weaknesses – Avoid places, people, or situations that will tempt you to spend money you don’t have. For example, if you make impulse purchases after a stressful day at the office, try taking a walk and avoiding the mall. Practice saying no to people who pressure you to spend too much money.

Seek help – Look to the experts for help if you need it. Speaking with a legitimate professional can answer your financial questions and guide you toward a specific, attainable goal. Why not benefit from their expertise?

Meeting Your Health Goals

October 23, 2015

Every day we make choices about how to care for ourselves. From what we’ll eat to how active we’ll be, every decision has costs and benefits. Choosing healthy goals can feel intimidating, especially when we’re lacking the “New Year’s Resolution” momentum. Making specific, measurable, and attainable goals sets you up for the life you desire.

Goal-Setting Tips:

Specific – Many times, our goals are vague and too broad. This fails to inspire and motivate us to make a lifestyle change. Instead, clearly describe what you would like to do and with what specific behavior.

For example, you might say, “I want to get fit.” But how often are you going to exercise and for how long? There’s a big difference between, “I want to be healthier,” and “I want to go for an hour-long run, three times this week, so I will have energy to play with my kids.”

Measurable – In addition to specificity, goals should be measurable. Writing down our behavior or tracking it wan an app will offer clues as to why we’re moving toward or away from our goals. For example, if your goal is to lose 15 pounds, this might involve counting your calories or tracking your daily percentage of vitamins and minerals.

Attainable – Goals should be realistic, given your time, finances, abilities, etc. Set small, attainable steps toward the larger goal. These might be daily, weekly, or monthly. Besides offering encouragement, small and attainable goals provide opportunities for rewards along the way.

Setting health goals are best done in community. Surrounding yourself with supportive peers pursuing similar goals is very helpful. Also, say your goals aloud. Tell people what you’re working toward and how you’ll get there. The more you speak out your goals and why you’re doing this, the more you’ll believe you can actually achieve them. There’s no time like today, even if it isn’t January 1st.

Breaking Bad Habits

January 30, 2015

Do you typically think about every step involve din your daily routine? Probably not, thanks to habits. When we develop habits from our repeated action, it frees up our brains to focus on other tasks. The more enjoyable the instant gratification, the harder the bad habit is to break.

Why is it so difficult to change our vices? When behaviors are enjoyable, even if they’re unhealthy, they can release a chemical in the brain called dopamine. The habit becomes even stronger, and we continue doing it regardless of how we feel afterward.

Strategies to Break Bad Habits

It is possible to break bad habits, and humans are good at learning how to exercise self-control. Along the path to better habits, we must start by making a choice. Here are several proven strategies to break bad habits.

Identify purpose. What purpose does the habit serve? If you aren’t getting something enjoyable from it, you wouldn’t keep doing it. for example, maybe you smoke to help calm you down or you overeat for comfort. When you identify the needs behind the habit, you can look for healthier alternatives.

Identify progression. What actions typically lead up to your habit? Disrupting this progression of events can help set you up for greater success.

Identify motivation. Why do you want to change? Feeling deep connection to your “why” helps make difficult choices worth it. Be specific for greater motivation.

Tips for Changing Habits

Plan ahead. Don’t trust your strength in the moment. Making a plan ahead of time for dealing with temptation prepares your mind to resist the urge. Try calling a friend or someone to hold you accountable.

Practice mindfulness. Pay attention to your mind and body. Be mindful to the emotions you’re experiencing and what’s going on in your body. This will help you take better care of yourself.

Replace with good. Trade out your bad habits for good ones. For example, swap out the time you once spent overeating and use it to exercise. Create healthy, daily routines to help fill the need or craving of your bad habit.

As with any difficulty, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Find a therapist, support group, or organization to help you get started on learning more about yourself. The encouragement could steer you toward the best strategy to break your bad habits and change them for good. After all, Who wouldn’t want a healthy lifestyle to be second nature?

Chronic Pain and Depression

November 21, 2014

The physical aspect of your chronic pain is hard to miss, but the emotional hurt that chronic pain can inflict might not be so obvious. It is no surprise that chronic pain can cause you to become depressed. You are physically uncomfortable, and you probably had to alter your lifestyle (including activities, workload, even personal relationships) to compensate.

Naturally, some days will be better than others, but you can keep depression from getting to you. First, acknowledge, rather than deny, any feelings of anger and grief that you have about changes in your body and life. Then make a plan to take control of your life again and forge ahead.

Things you can do to improve your mood:

Stay busy and active. Make a realistic list of what you want to accomplish each day.

Exercise. Choose activities you enjoy, and talk to your doctor about what type of exercise is safe and appropriate for you.

Do not isolate yourself. Make an effort to be among others who listen, lend support and help you have fun.

Take steps to minimize stress. There are relaxation techniques that can help.

Go easy on yourself. Don’t get frustrated if you cannot do something. Focus on what you can do and make time for things you enjoy.

Get help. If you think you have symptoms of depression and nothing you try seems to help you feel better, talk to a professional counselor. There are therapists who work specifically with people in chronic pain.

There are support groups for people with chronic pain and particular chronic illnesses. Talking with other people who are going through the same thing as you helps you realize you are not alone, which can help you feel better.

Time Out For Affirmations

December 23, 2013

People who use affirmations say consistently repeating the brief statements inspires them to achieve personal development goals. The following affirmations focus on some common self-improvement goals. Try repeating them to yourself.

To take control of time

  • I am master of my schedule.
  • I determine what is important and give it priority.
  • I recognize and deal with conflicting time demands.
  • I can create my own quiet time.

To succeed in a love relationship

  • I enjoy being in a relationship and sharing my life.
  • I enjoy it when my partner keeps growing, even in areas where I am not involved.
  • I show my love in public and in the privacy of our home and family.

To free yourself from stress

  • I am relaxed in mind and body.
  • I create tranquility.
  • I feel calm.

To deal with a life-changing event

  • I have the strength to overcome adversity.
  • I can handle this now because I know things will get better again.
  • When one door closes, another opens.

To overcome fears and obstacles

  • I am full of courage and confidence.
  • I remove limitations I have placed on myself.
  • I am free to pursue any goals I desire.

To feel comfortable about making mistakes

  • I accept that I am human, that I sometimes make mistakes.
  • I am not perfect, and nobody expects me to be perfect.
  • I can face my mistakes calmly and take appropriate corrective action without shame.

To set and achieve goals

  • I strive for (your goal) and will work to make it happen.
  • I am master of my future.
  • (Your goal) is important to me, and I will achieve it.

To build self-esteem

  • I celebrate my uniqueness.
  • I am competent and capable.
  • I believe in myself as no one else can.

To be more assertive

  • I am cooperative and understanding, but I can say “no” and still feel good about myself.
  • I make good decisions, and I am in control of my life.
  • I handle difficult situations effectively.

To express anger in healthy ways

  • My anger is an energy I can use positively.
  • I move away from the source of my anger.
  • I visualize a safe, quiet place when I am angry.

The Key to Balancing Family and Work? Prioritize.

May 31, 2013

Keeping a healthy balance between your work and your family can seem almost impossible to a parent or spouse with full-time employment. However, making conscious choices to prioritize the most important events in both spheres can help you live a balanced, happy life. If you let your work define your entire life, there is a good chance you will miss out on precious family bonding time that you can never get back.

Put Your Family First. Amidst the importance of both your career and your family, a balanced life is not easy, but making the decision to value your family will point you in the right direction. A practical way to get focused on your family is to collaborate to create family goals. Find out what your kids want to do as a family (i.e. to visit a local attraction or play a family game) and do it! Put it on your calendar, and be sure not to miss it.

Dealing with the Difficulties. Though we can endlessly discuss the decisions you should be making, even if you make all the right choices, there will still inevitably be times when work takes over. Sometimes responsibilities will mount that cannot wait and you will miss out on a family event. Accept this possibility now so that when the time comes, you aren’t overwhelmed or disappointed in yourself.

In the meantime, you can take positive action to ensure that your time at work is spent efficiently so that you can get home to your family as quickly as possible. Don’t let endless distractions and procrastination rule your life.

Practical Tips for Parents. The most important decision for parents to make is to be present where they are. Don’t come home to your kids with you mind still at the office. Separate your roles, leaving work at work so that you can more fully enjoy the time you have at home with your family. In doing so, you’ll quickly notice more of the little things that make life special, both at work and at home.

Plan Regular Family Dinners. The concept of family dinners may seem too simple, but plenty of studies have demonstrated that kids whose families regularly eat meals together are less likely to do drugs, smoke, drink, get depressed, develop eating disorders and consider suicide and more likely to eat fruits and vegetables, do well in school and communicate with their parents. That being said, make your family dinners a priority. Use the time together to catch up with each other, figure out what it is that your kids want to do as a family, discuss upcoming family events and delegate responsibilities for those events.

Have Fun with Your Kids. Don’t just split your attention all the time – make intentional plans with each child to make sure that they are all nurtured and loved in the unique ways they need. Also, many people today work so hard that they never take a break – don’t be afraid to take a family vacation! Those memories will be invaluable.

Don’t Forget Your Spouse. The trap of focusing all your energy on work and the kids is far too dangerous. Be intentional about one on one time with your spouse as well. Your relationship still requires work, even after years of marriage. Plan romantic dates, or just meet up for coffee in the middle of a workday. Find ways to keep on dialoguing, no matter where each day finds you.

The Benefits of Balance. Although balance may appear to be a daunting goal, difficult to achieve, any steps you take towards it will seem like a heavy load lifted off your back. Small choices can make a huge difference in your family life. Assess your responsibilities carefully and decide which ones make the cut of your priorities and which ones are not worth your time and energy.

Tips for Reducing or Controlling Stress

March 5, 2013

Getting to work on time… paying your bills… keeping on top of your household chores… it can all add up to a lot of stress. Sure, many of us realize that we have an abnormal amount of stress in our lives, but how do we deal with it and move on? Here are some tips to get you started down the path of tranquility.

As you read the following suggestions, remember that success will not come from a – effort, nor will it come overnight. It will take determination, persistence and time. Some suggestions may help immediately, but if your stress is chronic, it may require more attention and/or lifestyle changes. Determine YOUR tolerance level for stress and try to live within these limits. Learn to accept or change stressful and tense situations whenever possible.

Be realistic. If you feel overwhelmed by some activities (yours and/or your family’s), learn to say NO! Eliminate an activity that is not absolutely necessary. You may be taking on more responsibility than you can or should handle. If you meet resistance, give reasons why you’re making the changes. Be willing to listen to others’ suggestions and be ready to compromise.

Shed the “superman/superwoman” urge. No one is perfect so don’t expect perfection from yourself or others. Ask yourself, “What really needs to be done?” “How much can I do?” “Is the deadline realistic?” “What adjustments can I make?” Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.

Meditate. Just 10 to 20 minutes of quiet reflection may bring relief from chronic stress as well as increase your tolerance to it. Use the time to listen to music, relax and try to think of pleasant things or nothing.

Visualize. Use your imagination and picture how you can manage a stressful situation more successfully. Whether it’s a business presentation or moving to a new place, many people feel visual rehearsals boost self-confidence and enable them to take a more positive approach to a difficult task.

Take one thing at a time. For people under tension or stress, an ordinary workload can sometimes seem unbearable. The best way to cope with this feeling of being overwhelmed is to take one task at a time. Pick one urgent task and work on it. Once you accomplish that task, choose the next one. The positive feeling of “checking off” tasks is very satisfying. It will motivate you to keep going.

Exercise. Regular exercise is a popular way to relieve stress. Twenty to 30 minutes of physical activity benefits both the body and the mind.

Hobbies. Take a break from your worries by doing something you enjoy. Whether it’s gardening or painting, schedule time to indulge your interest.

Healthy lifestyle. Good nutrition makes a difference. Limit intake of caffeine and alcohol (alcohol actually disturbs regular sleep patterns), get adequate rest, exercise and balance work and play.

Share your feelings. A conversation with a friend lets you know that you are not the only one having a bad day, caring for a sick child or working in a busy office. Stay in touch with friends and family. Let them provide love, support and guidance. Don’t try to cope alone.

Give in occasionally. Be flexible! If you find you’re meeting constant opposition in either your personal or professional life, rethink your position or strategy. Arguing only intensifies stressful feelings. If you know you are right, stand your ground, but do so calmly and rationally. Make allowances for others’ opinions and be prepared to compromise. If you are willing to give in, others may meet you halfway. Not only will you reduce your stress, you may find better solutions to your problems.

Go easy with criticism. You may expect too much of yourself and others. Try not to feel frustrated, let down, disappointed or even “trapped” when another person does not measure up. The “other person” may be a wife, a husband, or a child whom you are trying to change to suit yourself. Remember, everyone is unique, and has his or her own virtues, shortcomings, and right to develop as an individual.

Where and when to seek help. Help may be as close as a friend or spouse. But if you think you or someone you know may be under more stress than just dealing with a passing difficulty, it may be helpful to talk with a doctor, spiritual adviser, or a psychological health care professional.